30 Year Old Husband & Wife in San Fran for 3 Days / 4 Nights
My husband and I will be spending 3 days and 4 nights in San Francisco at the end of July after a 5 day backpacking trip in Yosemite. Needless to say, we will be both thirsty and hungry!!! We'd prefer not to hit the "touristy" spots, and I'm hoping for some great local advice. We are probably going to stay near the Union Square area, but nothing has been booked. We don't mind walking a lot, as you can tell from the Yosemite backpacking portion of our trip. Also, we will probably have a car and can drive a bit if the recommendation is worth it.
- We need 3 great breakfast / brunch spots... We love breakfast (pancakes, egg casseroles, benedicts, potatoes, cinnamon rolls, etc..). My husband won't be upset if there are mimosas either!
- I would like 3 lunch spots that also offer GREAT beer... My husband brews his own beer and we are sort of beer snobs. We're open to gastro pubs, but I wouldn't exactly call us foodies. It would be fine if they had fresh, light fare along with the superb beer. I'd probably like a salad, light sandwich or shared appetizer for lunch.
- Finally, dinner (and dessert). We have 4 nights and I'd like to get a good variety of food. Again, a gastro pub would be great. I'd love to try something in China town, but am not really an adventurous eater... So, nothing too crazy here. Other welcome recommendations would be Italian, Indian, Thai, Pizza and Seafood. Lastly, I have a MAJOR sweet tooth. I have been to Ghiradelli before, and would like to try something new.
Thanks in advance for the advice!
For starters, unless you are hell-bent on driving around the city of San Francisco, you don't need a car and it would be a waste of money. This is a very mobile and walkable city. Dump the car.
1) Dottie's True Blue, Brenda's Soul Food. and Canteen.
2) Can't help you - not a big beer drinker.
3) SPQR, Ame, Bar Crudo, and Gitane.
Chocoate - Ghiradelli is a tourist trap. For chocolate, you want to visit Recchuiti in the Ferry Plaza or XO Chocolates in North Beach.
Sweets - Tartine Bakery.
600 Guerrero St, San Francisco, CA 94110
655 Divisadero Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
Dottie's True Blue Cafe
522 Jones St, San Francisco, CA 94102
1911 Fillmore Street, San Francisco, CA 94115
Gitane Restaurant & Bar
6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108
If you are interested in beer, you might want to check out Toronado in the Haight. We went on a Tuesday when Rosamunde next door has burgers to bring in, and they had all day happy hour prices on their many, many beers. It's a funky setting for sure in a bar but we loved it and would happily return on our next trip. I believe it is possible to do takeout from a couple of other places nearby as well if you're not there on a Tuesday or don't want Rosamunde's usual sausages.
I am also (a young) 30...
Skip the "great" beer part one day and to to the Mission for a world-class burrito. The SF authentic ones that I like are taqueria Cancun and La Taqueria, but easily my favorite, though very different, is Papalote.
Delarosa in The Maria is excellent Italian / Italian-ish "small plates" (though some of those small plates are enormous) inexpensive casual place with great service and great beer.
Frankly, Barney's (the only one I frequent is in the Marina) would fit your request exactly, though it is hard to suggest going out of your way to eat there... but you might want to check out the Chestnut Street strip, anyway, and if you do, Barney's (on Steiner) is a good option for you.
Gastro-Pub - the only one I know of and can vouch for is The Tipsy Pig, again in The Marina. I don't eat there often and I don't think it is the pinnacle of SF dining, however, it is good and if a gastro-pub is what you really are after, it will certainly fit the bill. I do have to say, though, SF has such a wonderful and diverse food culture, to me it would seem almost a waste to eat at the type of restaurant you could as easily find in NYC, LA, Chicago, Seattle, DC, Boston, etc...
Oddly enough, the best Chinese restaurants in SF are not in China Town. I like Ton Kiang in the outer Richmond for Dim Sum... so maybe that is brunch one day?
Italian - to me, Perbacco and/or Delfina is a must. I prefer Perbacco because (1) the menu is larger and more customizable (eg. you can order a half portion of pasta as your appetizer) and (2) the food is slightly better. But the cozy atmosphere of Delfina is excellent. Perbacco is going to be easy walking distance, Delfina = drive/cab. Perbacco has the best Italian food I've had outside of Italy. Order pastas, dishes with mushrooms, game meat, and braised red meats. Also, the burned caramel gelato with black sea salt is one of the best desserts I've ever had.
Pizza (and this could be lunch, too) - L'Osteria del Forno. You'll want to check out North Beach (our Little Italy) anyway. This is a hole-in-the-wall that serves some of the best Italian food (lots of pizza, but some other things, too) in the city. One oven for the entire restaurant, but you're not waiting forever -- I guess everything just gets cooked at the same temperature. Really special. No reservations, no credit cards. Excellent value.
Thai - if you want Thai, I really like Benjarong Thai. It is simple but excellent and fairly cheap. This is more of a local thing, though... SF isn't known for its Thai food, but this is an excellent Thai restaurant, if that is what you are looking for.
Indian - I haven't found an Indian restaurant that I love. And I've been all over the city looking.
Beer-oriented good, hearty, dinner - Leopold's. New, in Russian Hill, fairly inexpensive and a very good value. Austrian/German. Very good Central/Eastern European beer selection.
Seafood - Splurge. I know you say you are not an adventurous eater, but go to Ame. Dinner menu here: http://www.amerestaurant.com/dinner.html .... I know it is Japanese/Italian Fusion with French accents which sounds ridiculous and requires a leap of faith, but just let your server guide you. It is worth it.
Otherwise, for small plates seafood I like Pesce on Polk.
Traditional seafood at a nice restaurant, probably One Market.
There are tons of good dessert places in the Ferry building, though it closes early so it probably won't work for after dinner. Togo Gelato in North Beach is probably the best gelateria in town and I wind up there frequently.
230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111
L'Osteria del Forno
519 Columbus Ave, San Francisco, CA 94133
3621 18th St, San Francisco, CA 94110
2227 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
One Market Restaurant
1 Market Street, San Francisco, CA 94105
2889 Mission St, San Francisco, CA 94110
5821 Geary Blvd, San Francisco, CA 94121
1968 Lombard St, San Francisco, CA 94123
2231 Chestnut Street, San Francisco, CA 94123
2175 Chestnut St, San Francisco, CA 94123
(1) BREAKFAST - you've received some good recs on those
(2) LUNCH - Its easy to BART to the Mission and have good Mexican or you can walk to the Thirsty Bear Brewing (Tapas/Brewery) or some of the other pubs mentioned. I usually just got to Irish Bank for beer, but it is not a "brew their own" type of place. The Ferry Building is also nice for lunch - you can snack around and enjoy the views. If you want to try Chinese R&G Lounge has lunch specials for the unadventurous. Other options Barbacco - great Italian Sandwichs - they also have appetizers, pastas etc. very high quality and good value. Wexlers - Southern-refined food or Tyler Florence's Wayfare Tavern (more $$$) - Crab Louies, Fried Chicken etc.
Dinner - Frances if you can get in, Gitane is very cool spot, lots of good icecream in the city - Humphrey Slocumbe etc... Tcho chocolate on the Embarcadero gives tours and sells very rich hot chocolate and other treats (near the Ferry Building) custard filled bombolini (Ferry Building are also a good sweet treat).
Irish Bank Bar and Restaurant
10 Mark Ln, San Francisco, CA 94108
Gitane Restaurant & Bar
6 Claude Lane, San Francisco, CA 94108
230 California St, San Francisco, CA 94111
558 Sacramento Street, San Francisco, CA 94111
I've taken the TCHO tour -- it's mostly watching a video where they talk about their fair trade/anti-slavery practices, then you spend five minutes or so on the factory floor (which, I might add, is very sterile and not that interesting. It's not some Willy Wonka fantasy world), and then you try their different varieties of couverture discs. They end the tour by giving you a 10% off coupon to spend in their gift shop, but just a heads up, the chocolate bars are actually less expensive at SF Whole Foods stores.
They're nice people and they make some tasty chocolate, but I just thought I'd explain what you're in for on the tour.
17 San Pier, Francisco, CA
For dinner beers I would go to Toronado in Lower Haight. If you need food, there's Rosamunde next door and a brand new place for wings called Wing Wings (you can bring the food in to the bar). The guy running Wing Wings also had a hand in Little Skillet, which has amazing Chicken and Waffles.
For excellent Pakistani food that's also cheap and BYOB, I would recommend Shalimar. For more beer than you can shake a 5 liter boot at, go to Leopold's. The schnitzel and charcuterie platter are top notch and the beer is ever flowing. They don't take reservations, so get there on the early side (around 6ish).
For brunch, I really like Absinthe and Bar Agricole. If you want a serious cocktail in the morning, try Absinthe's Death in the Afternoon (Champagne and Absinthe). I had one the other day. The name fits.
Absinthe Brasserie & Bar
398 Hayes Street, San Francisco, CA 94102
547 Haight St, San Francisco, CA
Rosamunde Sausage Grill
545 Haight St, San Francisco, CA 94117
Farmerbrown's Little Skillet
330 Ritch Street, San Francisco, CA 94107
355 11th Street, San Francisco, CA 94103
2400 Polk St, San Francisco, CA 94109
532 Jones St, SF, CA 94102
422 Haight St, SF, CA 94117
We have narrowed it down to the list below. I probably still want a few more dessert recommendations (think ice cream, gelato, cake, cupcakes). Thanks again for all the great information. We appreciate everyone's help!!!
BREAKFAST TOP PICKS
- Absinthe Brasserie & Bar - This looks great for ALL meals
- Dottie’s True Blue Café
- Brenda’s French Soul Food
LUNCH TOP PICKS
- Taqueria Cancun
- Rosamunde Sausage Grill / Toronado
- Rogue Ales Public House
- Barney’s (Steiner)
DINNER TOP PICKS
- The Republic
DESSERT TOP PICKS
- Humphry Solcombe
For cupcakes I like CupKates (you have to visit off-the-grid on Friday nites to catch them - look at Facebook for updates) or Kara's is good but of what I've tried I think Kara's does lemon best.....
Cafe Madeline has good cake too, but its not super creative or unusual..... try Specialty's for hot chocolate chip cookies....they bake them fresh all day.